And in particular, it is high school roughly Grades 9 to 12 that holds a special place in our hearts, including mine. Those are, after all, the formative years, filled with adolescent experiences, escapades and discoveries. And this is one of the reasons why Shala by Milind Bokil appeals so much to its readers. The novel is set during the years of the Emergency and subtly presents a period of change in the society as well as in our protagonist.
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And in particular, it is high school roughly Grades 9 to 12 that holds a special place in our hearts, including mine. Those are, after all, the formative years, filled with adolescent experiences, escapades and discoveries.
And this is one of the reasons why Shala by Milind Bokil appeals so much to its readers. The novel is set during the years of the Emergency and subtly presents a period of change in the society as well as in our protagonist. Puppy love The focus of the text is on the sweet musings of first love, with all its relatable innocence. He falls in love with Shirodkar whose first name, again, we are never given but falling in love is easier than expressing it.
He knows that talking to a girl in class will end in ragging, since girls and boys did not mingle in those days. The only time when the two can talk is when the class plays Dumbcharades.
Joshi knows this is the one time he can impress his lady love. Theirs is a love that blossoms in snatched conversations to and fro tuition classes, during meetings in the temple when they cannot talk because Shirodkar has brought her sister there and, one time, at her house when she invites him and introduces him to her family.
The pangs of this love are far removed from the world of today where the only problem is that talking is too easy, and Bokil has done a wonderful job of portraying those long lost days and times.
And country But the novel is not just about Joshi and his love. The gang of friends Joshi hangs out with, his parents, the teachers who bore him, who entertain him, whose classes he hates and loves and finally the one figure that has impressed him a lot in his formative years — his Naru Mama.
Behind this deceptively simple storyline and straightforward characters, though, lies hidden something deeper and more far fetched.
Reading Shala reminded me at times of reading Swami and Friends , but this is not the innocent world of Malgudi. This is the world of teenage boys, high on hormones and without the knowledge on how to handle them. The prose is highly descriptive and filled with a local flavour in the language of the characters. The language as well as the setting have been efficiently presented by translator Vikrant Pande. Bokil also gives us the portrait of life in a chawl, where people meet every evening to play chess, badminton and cards and gossip after a long day.
But everything is on its way to change — including the somewhat idyllic school life of Joshi. By the time the novel ends, television has entered his chawl and put an end all the get-togethers in the evenings, two people he admired from his neighbourhood have been arrested, his favourite teacher has been thrown out and even the patch of paddy fields he so loved are being changed into a chawl.
All that remained was a dreadful year called Class Ten. Stumbling along I found the novel a tad too long at pages. I felt that a narrative around 50 pages less would have been tighter as some of the escapades of the protagonist and his friends could have been done away with. I had also expected the Emergency background to play a bigger role in the text than it did. In fact, the text would work more or less the same way even if emergency were removed from the context.
Also, I wished there was some scope for a female point of view in this all-male text as I would have loved to get some idea what the girls felt. Favourite Quote: I was jealous of Phawdya. And angry at my parents! Any shop for that matter: vegetables, stationery, Kirana, cosmetics or whatever! Even a shop selling Pooja items would do. Final Verdict: Overall, an entertaining and enjoyable read that has been translated wonderfully. This is a book which is local in its time and setting, yet global in its themes and characters.
Pay those extra bucks. Recommended for: Anyone who loves a good book, who is looking for a nostalgic trip down the road, who loves reading books about children and adolescents, YA fiction, and for lovers of writers like R K Narayan and Ruskin Bond.
For all those who love watching Rockford. She loves discovering new authors and new books. When not reading, she can be found book-browsing.
Shelves: reading-challenge This heavy dosage of nostalgia by Milind Bokil is set in Sukhdev Namdev Warhadkar Madhyamik Vidyalaya- a school in a small town near Mumbai. The story of this novel focus on the students of ninth standard who are living the best days of their lives, the golden days of school. It is told through the perspective of Mukund Joshi who is newly in love with his classmate Shirodkar. The way the story is narrated is one of the plus points of the novel the writing style, language and setting are true This heavy dosage of nostalgia by Milind Bokil is set in Sukhdev Namdev Warhadkar Madhyamik Vidyalaya- a school in a small town near Mumbai. The way the story is narrated is one of the plus points of the novel the writing style, language and setting are true according to the phase the lead characters are going through. The characters are completely believable and more than that they are relatable.
Books by Milind Bokil